Brandon Asks: Why Do Zebras Have Stripes?

Posted by Brandon on October 27, 2015

Rooster Zebra Contemplating Grilled-Cheese Sandwich by M. Forderer

Guys I need to go on a rant about Zebras for a moment. I’ve been thinking about them all serious-like for the past 30 minutes and it’s bugging me.


All the schools I’ve ever gone to sucked and the only educational program I’ve seen is The Life of Birds and Cosmos. I have no knowledge of things. I really hope this isn’t common knowledge…

But back to the task at hand: “Why do zebras have stripes????” I mean they stick out like a sore thumb amongst the other animals of the plains! Black and white contrasting stripes during the day seems like a sick fucking joke that evolution has been playing on them. Okay, so maybe they’re just really fast and can escape predators so evolution is all like, “we’ll just make it whatever pattern cuz it doesn’t matter”? I’m going to look that up real quick.

Googling “animals that eat Zebras”.

Lions and hyenas eat them… Okay so I guess they can’t really outrun everything or there’d be a population boom. Wait hold on – How fast are zebras, lions and hyenas?  40mph… 50mph… 37mph… They’re not even the fastest! So these stripes are pretty much getting them killed since they can’t blend in.

Perhaps I’m thinking about this the wrong way; there’s a night time too! Maybe they’ve been mainly hunted at night since that’s what lions and hyenas do and these stripes skew the outlines of their bodies and confuse nocturnal animals. How the hell do I figure that out!?

Googling “why do zebras have stripes?”; the thing I should have done at the beginning.



……….You guys, I was waaaaay off on this one.

Turns out it has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not they are being devoured by carnivores at all. Turns out it’s completely about temperature control and fending off horribly nasty disease-filled horseflies that are actually more deadly than a lion. So basically the black stripes absorb more heat and when air flows over them it moves faster because of the hot air. Conversely, white stripes absorb less energy and causes the air to flow more slowly. Since the stripes are practically on top of each other it creates a tiny eddy of air that actually swirls and cools down the Zebras temperature significantly. Not only does it cool down the zebra but the horse flies don’t like the cooler air and are usually deterred by this. There has even been studies showing that zebras in hotter temperatures have more stripes! In fact, zebras have a lower skin temperature than other animals in the same area. DID ANYONE KNOW THIS?!!?




About Brandon

The ultimate master of doing everything perfectly average. Whether it be archery skills, ornithology, kung fu, or your mom. Enjoys long walks on the beach if by "long walks" you mean sitting on a couch in the dark and by "beach" you mean playing video games.

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